The virus that refuses to go quietly into that good night is back with a new variant to sicken and disturb Americans just before the dawn of a new school year.
The coronavirus has become Webster-Meriam’s new literal definition of a bad penny. It follows the public wherever it may roam.
The BA.5 subvariant of Omicron is sweeping across the country, spiking COVID-19 numbers and keeping hundreds of thousands of people home from work, and canceling vacations, games and festivals. Scientists caution the new subvariant appears to be the virus’s most transmissible version to date.
It’s also further proof that COVID-19 appears to have moved into U.S. shores permanently.
“The BA.5 surge is a reminder that we need to take precautions to avoid illness, slow the relentless cycle of new variants and minimize the disruption to our daily lives,” The New York Times cautions.
BA.5’s most troublesome trait is its immune-evasive status, meaning it can infect people who are vaccinated, boosted or had COVID-19 in the past. It struck President Biden, who had been vaccinated and boostered, in July.
“Like many Americans, the president and his aides had let their guard down, loosening stringent COVID precautions previously employed at the White House,” The Times’ Knvul Sheikh and Hannah Seo wrote.
The good news about the coronavirus’ new subvariant is while it is highly infectious, its symptoms are less severe and more on par with influenza.
“What (COVID subvariants) have done over time is, they’ve become more infectious, but less severe,” Iowa Board of Health member and infectious disease specialist Dr. Hendrick Schultz told the Dubuque Telegraph Herald. “It may become something similar to a flu, where you get it, feel lousy, but don’t need to go to the hospital.”
Most Americans are resigned that COVID-19 is just a new fact of life. A July 2022 Axios/Ipsos Coronavirus Index survey found 43% of Americans believe the world will never fully be rid of the coronavirus during their lifetimes.
Given that another major new subvariant of the coronavirus is likely around the corner, U.S. health professionals are reminding the public to stay vigilant in their COVID-19 prevention methods. The virus was still claiming an average of 400 U.S. lives per day in July.
“We can live our lives knowing very well this risk exists,” Dien Ho, a bioethicist at Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, told The New York Times.
Here are Coronavirus Prevention Steps to Take if You Haven’t Already
- Max out your vaccines and boosters
- Find your new community COVID-19 indicators
- Mask up, and not just indoors
- Keep Rapid Tests on hand and use them
- If you’re traveling, find out how to get treatment
- Keep hand sanitizer readily available
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water
We have to learn to live with COVID-19. For unfortunately, this is the new normal.
“The BA.5 surge can be a reminder that there is a middle ground between having COVID precautions dominate your life and pretending that the pandemic is over,” Sheikh and Seo stress.